July 04, 2012 - I feel like shit. It’s 6:30 in the morning, and we’ve got a long day ahead of us. I’m in a tent with strangers who I’ve just become acquainted with the evening before over pasta and s’mores cooked over the campfire. We all chime in on how hard it was to sleep during mother natures intermittent attacks of rainfall on our overnight abode. Some couldn’t sleep due to leaking water on their faces. I couldn’t sleep because of the storm sounding like a thousand arrows deflecting off our nylon semi-waterproofed home for the evening. After the exchange of sleep stories and confirmation of tiredness present in all of us, we begin the day.

As Dylan prepares the oatmeal for breakfast, we greet the others “good morning” as they climb out of their tents across from ours. James and his girlfriend appear to have slept well. Christian switches out his standard cranks for the climb-friendly compact as the rest of the company chow down on oatmeal mixed with animal crackers. We wash it all down with a delicious and strong cold brewed iced coffee that Jayson was kind enough to bring. We pack up our belongings and head for the hills.

We park the car in front of Round Pond, which would mark both the beginning and the end of our 90-mile adventure. I still feel like shit. The coffee was delicious, but made me more jittery than it helped with waking me up. Maybe it was my nerves that was causing the jitters. Either way, it didn’t help. As we’re getting dressed, James describes the route, its challenges, and what we should expect. Fuck me.

It looks like I signed myself up for what would be my most challenging day on the bike to date. I’ve only been riding road bikes for about one year, and here I am in the company of three (pretty successful) category 3 racers that I have to learn keep up with all day. Not to mention about 7000+ feet of climbing. Let the wheelsucking begin.

To be continued in Part 2…

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